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Ryanair warns of growing business elsewhere if issue on APD is not addressed

Ryanair has decisively issued a stern warning to Stormont: address the burden of air passenger duty or run the risk of the airline developing its business somewhere else.

Kenny Jacobs, the Chief Marketing Officer of Ryanair, said the tax levy amounting to £13 on every passenger was negatively affecting regions such as Northern Ireland Jacobs also stated that it “creates an economic hindrance.”

The situation developed after Ryanair announced that it would initiate twice-a-day Belfast to Manchester flights, raising its destinations from Belfast to 13 with two more routes from the City of Derry Airport.

It offers 15 routes during the summer season straight from Belfast.

APD means passengers on short haul flights flying in or out of Belfast and Londonderry must hand over an extra £13.

Detractors of the duty say that APD causing a dip in the number of potential passengers.

It was axed in the Republic of Ireland in 2014.

Jacobs added: “Travel tax is not good for growth. On every UK flight £13 is added. That is more than a third of the price of our average fare.

“Our growth here has been flat and we would like it to be more significant but that won’t happen until APD is looked at.”

He remarked that the lack of devolved government here was affecting the development of tourism and the economy because ministers could not tackle the issue properly.

In Scotland, MSPs voted last year in favor of dropping APD, with the hope of dashing the tax altogether.

“The evidence is there. When tax was removed in Dublin we had double digit growth. There was a strong increase in tourist numbers and if it was removed here there would be an instant boost in jobs and tourism would grow,” Jacobs stated.

“Research from PwC states if APD is cut it would boost Northern Ireland’s GDP by 0.5%.”

Ryanair backs 715 on-site jobs in Belfast and 110 at City of Derry. Every year, it transports 955,000 passengers through Belfast and 145,000 from Derry.

Jacobs said: “It’s a big inconvenience that we can’t discuss it in Stormont and what we will say is we will grow elsewhere, where there is no tax. APD is an economic hindrance to growth in Northern Ireland.”

Jacobs relayed that Brexit would also present problems for Ryanair but appealed to Stormont to resolve what “we know is already holding back growth”.

“There is uncertainty surrounding Brexit and we will need more than three years to get systems in place, so in the meantime Northern Ireland should be doing everything to boost the economy that it can,” Jacobs added.

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